Monica Lewinsky began her career as an unpaid intern in the White House during the summer of 1995. She was 21 years old.
During her time at the White House, she began a relationship with former US President Bill Clinton. This affair is often referred to as the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal.
At the age of 24, Monica found herself in an unusual situation where Government agents threatened her with a jail sentence of 27 years. These officials demanded that she disclosed details of her involvement with the President as part of their investigation. As a result, her affair with President Bill Clinton was made public on January 21st, 1998.
Her autobiography, Monica’s Story written by Andrew Morton documents her career and life story. I have written articles on the life lessons of other individuals such as Kobe Bryant, Malcolm X, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Lee Iacocca, Phil Knight, Martin Luther King Jr, and Muhammad Ali. Feel free also to check these articles out.
The following are 8 impactful lessons from the career and life story of Monica Lewinsky:-
She demonstrated strength under pressure
The FBI took Monica to Room 1012 of the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Virginia. There, she discovered that there was evidence that she had committed a number of crimes. She was informed that she could possibly spend 27 years in prison.
Monica was detained for 12 hours in room 1012 where she was denied her legal right to call an attorney.
The FBI tried several tactics to intimidate Monica to speak but she remained silent until eventually her mother arrived to the room.
Her father, Bernie Lewinsky described her strength in this moment and stated:
“The more they attempted to squeeze and intimidate her, the stronger she became. I admire her tremendous strength-I don’t know how many kids could go through what she went through. It was incredible that she was able to stand up to these bullies carrying a silver shield” (pg. 185).
The value of choosing your friends wisely
Monica was betrayed by someone who she regarded as a friend. Her colleague named Linda Tripp taped their talks secretly. These conversations included details of her relationship with former US President Bill Clinton.
Tripp was responsible for leaking conversations with Monica to the FBI. Linda Tripp also influenced Monica not to clean a valuable piece of evidence in the case which was dubbed the Monica Lewinsky dress.
I have written another article on this blog on practical lessons from the Book of Proverbs on friendship. Feel free to click the previous link for further details.
Poor choices can have far reaching impact
Monica’s affair with Bill Clinton damaged her reputation. She described the experience as painful and humiliating. Her experience through this ordeal really drove home the fact that one poor choice can have far reaching impact.
Her immediate family and her close friends were also affected by her decision through the loss of their privacy.
She expressed one instance where Psychologist Dr. Joyce Brothers on the Today TV Show stated:
“Can you imagine a young man bringing home Monica Lewinsky to his parents and saying, I’m going to marry Monica Lewinsky?” (pg.261)
Monica’s image and integrity was damaged by the press due to the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal.
Hobbies can be therapeutic
During her period of distress due to the scandal, Monica used her creative skills as coping mechanisms. She learnt to knit from her stepmother and adopted this as a hobby.
Also, she started to pick up sewing again. She noted that while living in Washington, she did not put her creative skills to good use.
She repaired her bond with her father
Monica had a challenging relationship with her father especially after the divorce from her mother, Marcia. However during the scandal their relationship became stronger.
Her father supported her every step of the way. She referred to him as her “Rock of Gibraltar”.
She got into great shape
Another avenue that Monica used at the height of the scandal was exercise. She enlisted the help of a fitness guru who got her into remarkable shape.
The increased focus on fitness really paid off. While sightseeing with her cousin at Venice Beach a woman remarked that she looked like Monica Lewinsky but only thinner.
The Importance of having the right team
At a more advanced stage of the trial, Monica decided to divide her legal and public relations team. Previously, her lawyer handled both responsibilities.
Monica, however felt that her lawyer Bill Ginsburg was focused on the publicity of the case rather than being her advocate.
Fearing that the negative publicity may have denied her immunity, Monica decided to change her legal team. She flew to Washington with her public relations team member, Judy Smith.
Interviews were carried out in a beauty contest fashion and Monica listened intently as lawyers presented their suggestions on how they would win her immunity. Her instincts led her to selected Jake Stein and Plato Cacheris. These lawyers were able to win her immunity.
She showed impeccable character
Monica exercised a lot of restraint and showed great character in the midst of the scandal. When first confronted about the affair, former US President Bill Clinton denied the affair referring to her as “that woman”.
He finally admitted to having an “inappropriate relationship” with her after 7 months. Monica, though hurt did not seek to take any revenge.
Monica Lewinsky’s story is one that every young person should read. Despite the rocky start to her career, Monica has transformed her image and is now a social activist.
According to TED, Monica received her Masters in Social Psychology from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Reflecting on the scandal over 20 years later, according to Fox News Network Monica’s sentiments was:
”Get comfortable with the fact that at some point you will make a mistake in your career,” “And know that from the deepest part of you, you can move on from it, you can grow from it, and you can survive it.”
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